EU Timber Regulation Comes Into Force March 3

The European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) that prohibits the exportation of timber products derived from illegally harvested lumber to the EU market comes into force on March 3, 2013. Consequently, Ghanaian exporters of timber products to the EU market and representatives of agencies that have various roles to play in the export of timber products have met in Kumasi to deliberate and share information on the regulations in order not to be overtaken by events. The EUTR, passed by the EU Parliament on October 20, 2010, puts a heavy responsibility on buyers of wood products on the EU market to demonstrate that such timber products come from legal sources. It also places a responsibility on wood product exporters to provide genuine and/or credible information/data and documents to support documents provided by buyers to authenticate the legality of their purchases. The EU is Ghana’s traditional market for lumber. According to the Forestry Commission (FC), the country used to export about 60 per cent of its wood and wood products to the EU but this had dropped to 30 per cent currently due to various factors including the demand for high quality wood products from European buyers. The Kumasi workshop was organised by the Forestry Commission in collaboration with the EU, the World-wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN). In a speech at the meeting, the Chief Executive of Ghana’s Forestry Commission (FC), Mr Samuel Afari Dartey, told participants that it was important Ghanaian exporters and other players in the industry took the EU regulations seriously to ensure that the nation did not lose its share of the EU market. “We need to learn more about the EU regulations and ensure that we abide by them so that we don’t lose more grounds in the EU market,” he told the stakeholders. Mr Dartey stated that the harvesting of timber illegally had become the order of the day in the global timber trade. “It is against this background that Ghana is improving the legal systems locally with the view to meet the demands of the importing countries, he explained. Among the local initiatives are the passage of the Timber Resources (Legality Licensing) Regulations to guide the implementation of license issuance to timber companies, deployment of a national wood tracking system, and the procurement for the services of a third party independent monitor to monitor the operations of the legal assurance system among other things. “These initiatives are expected to set the tone for Ghana to have a credible system to determine the legality of our wood and wood products in conformity to the demands of the green markets,” Mr Dartey stressed. He stated that the FC and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources were fully committed to the initiatives and would pursue them to their logical conclusion. The Executive Director of the Timber Industry development Division (TIDD) of the FC, Dr Alhassan N. Atta, disclosed that the FC was introducing an e-contract system which would help reduce the time in processing timber contracts at the commission.